Coline from France
So I was in the car with my parents, excited to discover Utrecht city. We came out of the highway then… d*mn! SO-many-bikes.
Of course we knew there were tons of bikes in the Netherlands. Of course we knew Utrecht was full of cyclists. But we were not prepared for this. As a French driver, my father was not used to this cycling crowd and he was trying not to kill someone and not to lose himself in the city at the same time. A good start!
Driving in the city, we came across a bicycle park.
This is not an exaggeration, nor an exceptional situation. People here are crazy. Crazy for bikes! They have a system that permits to dispose bikes on top of each other easily. If you don’t pay attention when you park your bike in an empty bicycle parking, you may have big problems to get it back if it gets lost in a forest of machines…
Bikes for everyone
Here you eat bikes at breakfast, lunch and dinner. There is the classic bike, the dog bike, the shopping bike, the let’s-be-as-many-as-we-can bike, the one-wheel bike, the rusty bike, the stolen bike and, my favourite, the Noah’s ark bike.
Ah, there’s one more:
The texting bike, for our great danger!
The Holy Cycling Path
In the Netherlands, bike paths are everywhere. Check out these great advises given by a master of cycling!
Okay. Now we are ready. The bike is ready. The body is ready. The last thing you have to care about is that you do not end up against the direction on the pedestrians path, in front of an enormous truck with nowhere to hide.
You can laugh. But first take a look at this.
Now tell me: where are you supposed to cross the road? You can’t cycle on the zebra crossing. You’re not supposed to cycle on the road either. You found it? Between the dotted lines. Good boy.
Sooo you are supposed to cycle on the right side of… well, it depends on what kind of bicycle path you are.
- Up: ride on the right side of the path. You can be on any side of the road, as long as you stay in the right direction.
- Down: ride in the center of the path. You need to stay on the right side of the road.
“If the picture of the bicycle is upside down… then you are on the wrong side of the road!”
Of course that seems super easy. But when you’re don’t know where you’re going, when you turned around three times and a half, it can happen that you end up completely lost, realizing that everybody is doing the opposite of what you’re doing, caught between cars and a work fence.
Yup I know, it looks like I exactly know what I’m writing about… that’s because this situation was mine this morning. And you can believe me, that wasn’t funny! The only advice I can give you is to leave well in advance, because this will certainly happen to you at least once if you’re not used to this transport mode.
As cars and pedestrians do, you have your own traffic lights. You can follow the rules… or not, as always.
If you’re in a hurry, you can press a button (on the yellow box) which will help you being respected. I don’t really know what’s the point of doing that, since I noticed those ugly little scars on the ground…
I definitely think there is a weight detector system underneath. Then why is there a button? That’s a mystery.
Where’s my bike?!
So there you are, at the end of an exhausting day of hard shopping, or totally wasted at the exit of your new favourite club, ready to go home to sleep for a little eternity. The only problem is… you’re pretty sure you came on your bike. The bike that isn’t there anymore. Did you take hallucinogenics? Where is your anti-theft chain again? In your bag. Urgh.
Do you see what happens when you don’t listen to Coco’s advises first? Let me help you.
That way, no piece of your bike can be stolen. Everything is connected to the fixed object. Well, if you’re very unlucky you’ll end up with Crazy Dave, then there’s nothing you can do.
Then you have different kinds of locks.
People here mostly use things like that:
I am using those:
But I think theirs are better because you can’t break them with a big clamp. Furthermore theirs are longer and easier to twist when you’re desperately trying to lock your bike correctly.
Now, if you’re too lazy to take the time to lock your bike, here’s a solution for you.
The minibike! No need to park it, you can simply take it with you everywhere you go. Make sure you keep a pocket empty when you go cycling!